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If this is your first visit, welcome! This site is devoted to my life experiences as a Filipino-American who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 1960. I came to the US as a graduate student when I was 26 years old. I am now in my early-80's and thanks God for his blessings, I have four successful and professional children and six grandchildren here in the US. My wife and I had been enjoying the snow bird lifestyle between US and Philippines after my retirement from USFDA in 2002. Please do not forget to read the latest national and International News in this site . I have also posted some of my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes in this site. Some of the photos and videos in this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing on your copyrights. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Statins-the right cholesterol-lowering drugs for You?


The following article written by the Mayo Clinic Staff attracted my attention today. Currently, I am on statin therapy (Lovastatin). However, lately. I have been experiencing muscle and joint pains- the most common side effects of Statins. I am thinking of quitting taking statins, but instead take fish oil capsules as suggested by a physician friend in the Philippines. If you are under statins therapy, are you also experiencing minor muscle and joint pains? I will be glad to hear from you!

"Statins are drugs that can lower your cholesterol. They work by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol. Statins may also help your body reabsorb cholesterol that has built up in plaques on your artery walls, preventing further blockage in your blood vessels and heart attacks.

Statins include well-known medications such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and others. Lower cost generic versions of many statin medications are available.

Already shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol, statins may have other potential benefits. But doctors are far from knowing everything about statins. Are they right for everybody with high cholesterol? What happens when you take a statin for decades? Can statins help prevent other diseases?
Should you be on a statin?

Whether you need to be on a statin depends on your cholesterol level along with your other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

High cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, meaning your total cholesterol level is 240 milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL, (6.22 millimoles per liter, or mmol/L) or higher, or your "bad" cholesterol (LDL) level is 130 mg/dL (3.68 mmol/L) or higher, your doctor may recommend you begin to take a statin. But the numbers alone won't tell you or your doctor the whole story.

If the only risk factor you have is high cholesterol, you may not need medication because your risk of heart attack and stroke could otherwise be low. High cholesterol is only one of a number of risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

Other risk factors
Before you're prescribed a statin, your cholesterol level is considered along with other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including:

* Family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease
* Inactive (sedentary) lifestyle
* High blood pressure
* Age older than 55 if you're a man, or older than 65 if you're a woman
* Poor general health
* Having diabetes
* Overweight or obesity
* Smoking
* Narrowing of the arteries in your neck, arms or legs (peripheral artery disease)

If your doctor decides you should take a statin, you and your doctor will have to decide what dose to take. Statins come in varied doses — from as low as 5 milligrams to as much as 80 milligrams, depending on the medication. If you need to decrease your LDL cholesterol significantly — by 50 percent or more — it's likely you'll be prescribed a higher dose of statins. If your LDL cholesterol isn't as high, you'll likely need a lower dose. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about the amount of statins you're taking.
Lifestyle is still key for lowering cholesterol

Lifestyle changes are essential for reducing your risk of heart disease, whether you take a statin or not. Lifestyle changes you should consider making include:

* Quitting smoking
* Eating a healthy diet that's low in fat, cholesterol and salt
* Exercising 30 minutes a day on most days of the week
* Managing stress

If you're following the recommended lifestyle behaviors but your cholesterol — particularly your low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol — remains high, statins might be an option for you. Risk factors for heart disease and stroke are:

* High cholesterol
* High blood pressure
* Diabetes
* Being overweight or obese
* Family history of heart disease
* Not exercising
* Heavy alcohol use
* Poor stress and anger management
* Older age
* Smoking
* Narrowing of the arteries in your neck, arms or legs (peripheral artery disease)

Consider statins a lifelong commitment

You may think that once your cholesterol goes down, you can stop taking medication. But, if your cholesterol levels have decreased after you take a statin, you'll likely need to stay on it indefinitely. If you stop taking it, your cholesterol levels will probably go back up.

The exception may be if you make significant changes to your diet or lose a lot of weight. Substantial lifestyle changes may help you lower your cholesterol without continuing to take the medication, but don't make any changes to your lifestyle or medications without talking to your doctor first.
The side effects of statins

Although statins are well tolerated by most people, they do have side effects, some of which may go away as your body adjusts to the medication.

Common, less serious side effects

* Muscle and joint aches (most common)
* Nausea
* Diarrhea
* Constipation

Potentially serious side effects

* Liver damage. Occasionally, statin use causes an increase in liver enzymes. If the increase is only mild, you can continue to take the drug. If the increase is severe, you may need to stop taking it, which usually reverses the problem. If left unchecked, increased liver enzymes can lead to permanent liver damage. Certain other cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as gemfibrozil (Lopid) and niacin, increase the risk of liver problems even more in people who take statins. Because liver problems may develop without symptoms, people who take statins have a blood test six weeks after starting a statin medication to check their liver function. After that, your doctor may recommend yearly blood tests.
* Muscle problems. Statins may cause muscle pain and tenderness (statin myopathy). The higher the dose of statin you take, the more likely you are to have muscle pains. In severe cases, muscle cells can break down (rhabdomyolysis) and release a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin can damage your kidneys. Certain drugs when taken with statins can increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. These include gemfibrozil, erythromycin (Erythrocin), antifungal medications, nefazodone, cyclosporine and niacin. If you take statins and have new muscle aching or tenderness, check with your doctor.

It's important to consider the effects of statins on other organs in your body, especially if you have health problems such as liver or kidney disease. Also, check whether statins interact with any other prescription or over-the-counter drugs or supplements you take.

Keep in mind that when you begin to take a statin, you'll most likely be on it for the rest of your life. Side effects are often minor, but if you experience them, you may want to talk to your doctor about decreasing your dose or trying a different statin. Don't stop taking a statin without talking to your doctor first".

Personal Note: A friend in Face BOOK who is a physician in the Philippines commented that a good alternative for statins are fish oil capsules. There are less bad side effects when taking fish oils.

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